Ready to Start Your Career?

CompTIA Security+: How To Get Security Plus Certification

Cybrary Staff's profile image

By: Cybrary Staff

November 4, 2021

CompTIA Security+: How to get the certification The CompTIA Security+ certification validates the baseline skills required to perform the core security functions that protect today’s businesses.

Summary: The globally recognized CompTIA Security+ certification opens the doors to many lucrative career opportunities. The exam content is typically updated every three years, which means that candidates should prepare themselves with the latest study materials. This guide outlines the steps necessary for candidates to prepare for, register, and pass the exam.

The CompTIA Security+ is a globally recognized vendor-neutral accreditation that validates the foundational skills in cybersecurity necessary to fulfill DoD 8570 compliance. Therefore, it is highly sought after across the US Defense Industrial Base and among organizations in a broad range of other industries.

Earning the certification proves hands-on practical skills to help prepare security professionals for today’s complex cybersecurity challenges. The exam is usually updated every three years to reflect the industry’s most pertinent issues and adapt to the latest trends and best practices.

Here are the main steps candidates must take to earn the certification:

#1. Evaluate current experience

Given that the CompTIA Security+ is an entry-level credential, there are no prerequisites for entering the exam. While it’s considered entry-level, CompTIA still recommends that candidates have at least two years of experience in IT administration, ideally with a focus on security.

CompTIA also recommends that candidates first earn the Network+ certification before aiming for Security+. Taking a Network+ course and subsequently achieving the accreditation acquaints candidates with a comprehensive knowledge of network infrastructure, troubleshooting, and management. This should make preparing for the Security+ certification much easier.

#2. Decide which exam to take

CompTIA typically refreshes the Security+ exam every three years. The latest iteration is SY0-601, released on November 12, 2020. This latest exam places a heavy emphasis on new and emerging technologies and threat vectors, such as those around cloud computing, mobile platforms, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Whenever CompTIA releases a new edition of the exam, it offers candidates a period of time to take the previous exam. In this case, this is the SY0-501, released on October 4, 2017. However, candidates should typically pursue the latest version unless they have already invested their time completing a course aligning with the previous version.

#3. Prepare the study materials

Once they have chosen which exam to sit, candidates should expect to spend at least a month preparing. Depending on their current level of knowledge and experience, it may be necessary to spend several months becoming acquainted with the key areas covered by the certification.

There are many ways to study for the exam, and the best option will primarily come down to the individual candidate’s personal preferences and preferred study style. Most candidates will be best off taking a self-paced online course, complete with a set of practice questions like those found in the exam. This option offers the benefits of great flexibility, remote studying, and hands-on virtual labs. Other options include in-person training boot camps and workshops, although availability is limited to certain times and regions.

#4. Register for the Security+ exam

Once candidates have an established pre-exam study plan and are confident that they will be ready to take the exam by a given time, they should register with Pearson VUE. Pearson VUE is the organization responsible for exam delivery, either online or in-person. They have testing centers in many countries and regions, while online certification testing is open to anyone.

Online testing is the best option for candidates who do not have a testing center near them or prefer not to travel. Tests can be taken at any time (24/7) or from any location with a reliable internet connection and take place in a highly secure environment with remote proctoring. However, most in-person testing centers, including third-party ones, are also open for exam delivery and are better options for those who prefer a more traditional exam environment.

#5. Try some practice questions

Practice exams are vital when pursuing any professional accreditation, not only for candidates to test their knowledge but also to get a feel for the exam environment. Practice test questions are available through the CompTIA online store. This choice is by far the better option than so-called ‘brain dump’ services that claim to offer actual exam questions.

A comprehensive CompTIA Security+ course should also provide practice questions, along with answers and explanations. Hands-on simulations can also be enormously valuable for helping candidates relate what they have learned to various real-world use cases.

#6. Pass the Security+ exam

There are several final steps that candidates should take ahead of the exam day to maximize their chances of passing. These include becoming familiar with the rules and policies of the exam. Furthermore, if the candidate does not feel fully prepared for the exam, it is possible to reschedule at any time up to 24 hours before the exam.

Insofar as exam rules are concerned, candidates must not take any electronic devices into the exam. If they take an online exam, the entire process is monitored, and they must adhere to a separate set of rules and policies.

During the exam itself, candidates should not be afraid of skipping questions they are not confident enough to answer. After all, candidates have only 90 minutes to answer a maximum of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions. The latter is usually more difficult since they require candidates to solve specific challenges in simulated environments.

#7. Maintain the certification

The CompTIA Security+ certification is valid for three years from the date that the candidate earns it. Renewal does not require candidates to retake the exam unless they allow it to expire. To ensure the certification remains valid, holders must earn continuing education units (CEUs) by completing approved activities, such as performing a relevant role in cybersecurity or continuing further training in the space. There is a $50 annual maintenance fee as well.

Finally, candidates who hold multiple CompTIA certifications, such as Network+ or Cloud+, only need to meet the maintenance requirements for the highest-level certification to meet the requirements for all the others.

Cybrary for Teams is an all-in-one workforce development platform that helps organizations develop stronger cybersecurity skills, prepare for new certifications, and track team progress!

Schedule Demo